How to Improve Your Resilience Through Effective Communication With Your Coworkers
From our February Newsletter
By Stephanie Scherle
We all know that effective communication in the workplace is incredibly important, not only to effectively deliver projects but also to increase the engagement and job satisfaction of employees (Awad & Alhashemi, 2012). According to a Gallup Study in 2021, however, only 17% of employees strongly agree that "there is open communication throughout all levels of the organization." Therefore, it seems that there is still some work to be done in organisations to educate employees about effective communication and encourage such communication through their culture. But what does effective communication even mean? And how can you achieve it?
What Is Effective Communication? Source: ProofHub According to Kashyap (n.d.), "effective workplace communication is about making that connection with others in your organization and creating an environment where everyone feels included and heard. It’s about communicating in a way that allows your team to accomplish its goals and make progress." So how can this be achieved?
Tips to Improve Communication With Your Colleagues Source: Justworks, Post University, ProofHub Get to Know Your Colleagues The first step to building rapport with your colleagues is to get to know who they are. This includes both knowing a little bit about their life outside of work (which can help with making interactions more personable and comfortable) as well as understanding the way in which they communicate. Questions you could ask yourself when interacting with your coworkers could be:
Are they really straightforward or more reserved in their opinions?
Are they very expressive in their emotions or more laid back?
Do they get frustrated easily?
Are they generally more extroverted and like interacting with others or are they more reserved?
Understanding such details can be important both for adjusting your communication style to the person and to have an easier time in gaging the meaning of the words spoken. For example, it might feel hurtful to get really blunt feedback from a coworker but knowing that they are just generally more outspoken, might soften the blow. Of course, this doesn't mean you should tolerate rude or abusive communication from others and when things cross a line, it is important to speak up. When Things Go Wrong, Speak Up Instead Of Making Assumptions Sometimes, it can feel like there is some unexplained tension or uncomfortable feelings stemming from a past interaction with a coworker. In such moments, it is easy to make assumptions about the cause of the tension or think that there are negative intentions at play. It is important to question such assumptions about the other person's character and motives. For this reason, it can be helpful to address the tension and lay both points of view out in the open. When this is done, it is important to reserve judgment and try to see things from each others' points of view. This can feel scary but can be rewarded with a much more comfortable relationship where things can be addressed without fear of judgment. Actively Listen to Your Colleagues This is extremely important in making your communication more effective.
When talking to your colleague, make sure to give them your undivided attention. It can feel very hurtful to a person when they speak about something that is important to them and the other person is checking their phone or staring into space.
Make sure to indicate that you are listening, for example through eye contact or nodding.
Don't listen to reply, but listen to understand. It happens to all of us when we are listening to someone speak and are just waiting for them to finish so we can make a point, not really hearing what they are saying fully. Try to really understand what the other person is saying and don't interrupt.
Reflect back to them where it seems appropriate. When a conversation becomes more complicated or someone is expressing what they are feeling, sometimes it can be helpful to reflect what they are saying back to them to make sure you understood what they were talking about and to demonstrate you really listened and you care.
Make sure to pay attention not only to what is said but also to how it's said. Make sure to pay attention to body language and voice cues. Do they match the words? If not, why not? Also, be aware that this might be different when interacting with individuals who have autism. While not noticeable in all autistic people, as some are very adept at masking, some autistic people exhibit less eye contact, fewer facial expressions, and less body language in general.
Offer Feedback Thoughtfully When complimenting another employee for their work, make sure to not just say they did a great job, but praise them for a specific skill or task as this helps them feel more confident about that skill or executing that task, which can lead to more satisfaction. When offering constructive criticism, make sure you choose the right time for it. Try to do it in private and when the other person has the time and mental space to process the feedback. Also, triple-check whether the feedback you are giving is helpful and necessary for the other person or your relationship with each other and whether it is appropriate for you to criticize.
Would you like to improve your communication with colleagues and need support? Would you like your organisational culture to be more encouraging of effective communication practices? Resilient Workforce can offer coaching sessions or organisational initiatives to improve communication within businesses. Contact us at email@example.com.
Awad, T. A. and Alhashemi, S. E. (2012). Assessing the Effect of Interpersonal Communications on Employees Commitment and Satisfaction. International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management, 5, 134-156. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17538391211233425.
Kashyap, S. (n.d.). 14 Quick Tips For Effective Communication In The Workplace. ProofHub. https://www.proofhub.com/articles/effective-communication.
The Key to Succeeding at Work: Improving Communication in the Workplace. (2022, December 21). Post University. https://post.edu/blog/7-tips-for-developing-superior-workplace-communication-skills/.
18 Tips for Effective Communication in The Workplace. (2022, May 16). Justworks. https://www.justworks.com/blog/easy-ways-improve-communication-workplace.